The Thinking That Comes With The Darkness Of Depression
While mania can result in an untold number of calamities, depression can too. Specifically, those who are in a depressive state may attempt or commit suicide, lose their jobs because they can’t go to work, or get into financial trouble because they can’t pay their bills.
Just like with mania, it is a good idea to stay close to supportive friends and family during a depressive episode.
Here are a few examples of depressive stinking thinking:
- “I hate myself. I am worthless. I'm bad. I am ugly. I'm stupid.” Self-defeating and unloving thoughts almost always accompany depression. These lead to a loss of self-worth and self-respect.
- “I can’t go on like this. I would be better off dead.” This is a dangerous place to be. Depression can be so all-consuming, it is easy to slip into the false belief that death would bring an end to suffering and that life isn’t worth living.
- “I am a burden to the people around me. They would be better off without me.” This is a common theme during a depressive episode. Those who live with bipolar often feel guilty about their illness and how it affects loved ones.
- “I have tried everything to get well. This is going to go on forever, and I just can’t take it anymore.” Depression causes someone to believe they will be depressed forever and that it will never pass. The truth is, it does pass.
Identifying bipolar thoughts as they occur is key to managing this illness.
When you know how bipolar affects you personally, you will be better equipped to recognize the highs and lows for what they are – nothing more than a temporary chemical imbalance that will pass with time.
This will allow you to be more successful at managing the emotional upheavals and negative thought patterns when they come and maintaining some manageability in your daily life until they go.
Treating Bipolar – The Medication Journey
Generally speaking, doctors will recommend two ways to treat bipolar disorder –medication and with therapy. Let’s discuss these two options.
There are three main types of medications prescribed to those who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder:
- Mood stabilizers: These regulate mood and maintain a proper balance of the feel-good chemicals in your brain. Mood stabilizers are designed to keep you from swinging between the extremes of depression and mania. When you are on a mood stabilizer, you might still experience highs and lows on occasion, but they will usually be manageable, and they won’t last as long. Lithium, Depakote, and Lamictal are three of the most popular mood stabilizers.
- Antipsychotics: This type of medication is generally prescribed to prevent extreme manifestations of mania or depression like hallucinations, delusions, and suicidal thoughts. They are also given as “off-label” drugs, meaning that they can produce other effects. Many people take antipsychotics for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, agitation, restlessness, racing thoughts, and other symptoms. Abilify, Latuda, and Seroquel are in this category.
- Antidepressants: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (also known as antidepressants or SSRIs) are commonly given to those who have depressive episodes. They increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, which reduces symptoms of depression. Common antidepressants include Zoloft, Prozac, and Lexapro.
Here is the thing about taking medication to treat bipolar: everyone responds to these medications differently. Some experience uncomfortable side effects from certain drugs while others do not. Also, when you take more than one medication (and most people with bipolar do), they can interact with one another and cause problems.
The truth is, it can be a frustrating journey to get on the right meds. It is a process of trial and error. You may have to try several different types of medications and various combinations before your doctor gets it right.
My medication journey was miserable. It took numerous tries and a lot of discomforts to find out what medications worked for me. When I finally got the right cocktail, it was amazing.
In fact, I didn’t realize how truly sick I was until I wasn’t sick anymore. Once my mental chemistry was adjusted, I remember thinking, “Wow. I had no idea I could feel this okay inside.”
Therapy Can Be An Integral Aspect In Treating Bipolar Disorder
There are many different types of therapies to be considered if you have bipolar. I believe medication should be taken in combination with intensive therapy – and most mental health professionals recommend this to people who have bipolar disorder.
Here are a few effective therapies that are used in the treatment of bipolar:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT)
- Family-Focused Therapy (FFT)
- Anger Management
- Support groups
I spent many, many years in therapy before I became willing to take medication, and I am grateful I did that because once I got on the right meds, everything just clicked. I had the tools I needed to manage the illness and I just needed the right brain chemistry to be able to utilize those tools.
Also, I am still actively involved in self-help groups, and I am fortunate to have a very close friend who is a therapist who I turn to for help when I need it.
If you are struggling with bipolar disorder, consider getting into a therapy program where you can work with a psychologist who is trained in the treatment of this illness. Even if you decide not to take medication as part of your treatment, you can still benefit from the process.
If You Think You Have Bipolar, Please Get Help
I hope this article has provided you with some helpful information about bipolar disorder. If you think you may have this illness, please talk to a mental health professional who can properly diagnose you and provide you with treatment options. If you think someone you love may have this condition, please ask them to read this article.
I can tell you from personal experience that bipolar is treatable and you can learn to manage this condition. I remember that for me (before I found healing) life always felt so difficult and I was all over the place, and I was miserable. Accepting my condition, going into therapy, passionately pursuing resources that would help me get well, and taking medication has all the difference in my life.
For those who are really struggling, I want to encourage you to keep fighting the good fight. Don’t give up on yourself.
Keep searching, keep asking questions, keep doing research, keep reaching out for help, keep doing whatever you can to get better... keep on keeping on! It took a lot of years for me to “get right in the head,” but today I am right in the head. You can be too – I promise!